Monday, May 28, 2007

Interview with Trish Perry

I recently had the pleasure of reading a new book, Too Good to Be True. Author Trish Perry is an award winning writer and editor of Ink and the Spirit, a quarterly newsletter of the Capital Christian Writers organization in the Washington DC, area. She has published numerous short stories, essays, devotionals and poetry in Christian and general market media, and she is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers group. Trish has graciously agreed to be interviewed and so without further ado, I want to welcome Trish Perry to Abundant Blessings.

TP: Thanks for featuring me, Jenny!

JC: Trish, let’s get the preliminaries out of the way. First, how long have you been writing? And we all want to know about when it became professional—tell us all about getting The Call.

TP: I’ve been writing seriously for about 12 years. I dabbled here and there before that, but I felt the I-Have-To-Write bug about 12 years ago. I got The Call about my first book contract back in October 2005. My agent was talking with a few houses about Too Good to Be True while I worked on the follow-up, The Guy I’m Not Dating. Harvest House decided they wanted both books, with one condition. They wanted the events of The Guy to happen first, followed by Too Good. Was I willing to switch the books’ sequences and order of release, they wondered? Were they kidding? I would have switched anything about the books—made them about polar bears setting up house in Manhattan—as long as Harvest House was willing to give me a try!

JC: What is a typical writing day like for you? Have you been able to make writing a full-time career?

TP: It’s definitely my full-time career now, although I can’t honestly say I’m self-disciplined enough to keep my boss (and that would be me) totally happy. There’s something to be said for clocking in at an office, with clipboard-toting ogres standing watch over you, allowing you a mere ten-minute coffee break once in awhile.

But when I’m under deadline, I can be very disciplined. I drop everything else and dive so deeply into my fictional world that the people in my real world give up on me. They make their own lunches, do their own laundry, talk amongst themselves as if I’ve passed on. During these periods, my typical writing day gets into full swing as soon as everyone else is out of the house. Then it’s just me, my computer, and all my little imaginary friends. I break for a quick lunch—usually reading something fun, but if pressed, editing instead. And I break for dinner (there exists an exponential relationship between how much time before deadline and how much Chinese carryout we eat). I’ll either call it quits for the day at that point or, if I feel I need to get more writing done that day, I’ll have at it again after dinner.

JC: So Too Good to Be True turned out to be your follow-up to The Guy I’m Not Dating—both being chick lits from Harvest House. What made you try writing chick lit?

TP: I had slowly worked on a more serious, spiritual-warfare novel for a few years before I started the lighter storylines. My SW novel involved creepy stuff and considerable research about Eastern religions and the Civil War. I had such a hankering for comedy by the time I was done. The romance factor just fit within the comedy story the Lord gave me, once I started considering it. Too Good to Be True was actually the first of the two books, as I mentioned above. I didn’t really think of it as chick lit—I simply wanted to write romantic comedy. But my heroine had a chick lit sense of humor, so that’s the direction I went. I’ve always enjoyed a wide variety of novel genres, and I’d like to publish in other genres eventually. But I do love a good laugh.

JC: I noticed when reading Too Good to Be True, you kept it is 3rd person POV rather than the traditional 1st person POV of most chick lit. Was that your call or your publishers? Can you share the reasoning?

TP: Originally, I wrote Too Good to Be True in first person, which, as you say, is traditional for chick lit. Loved writing in first person! But when I wrote The Guy I’m Not Dating, there were some scenes I wanted to include which couldn’t include my heroine. So I wrote The Guy in third person. Harvest House published The Guy first, and it wasn’t until about a month before Too Good was due to the printers that my editor noticed I had written Too Good in first person. Since the books were unofficially a series, and the first one was in third person and already out there, my editor asked me to rewrite Too Good in third person. (There’s a word to the wise, if the wise are writing a series—write all of the books in the same POV!)

So that was quite an interesting little adventure! The funny result from the experience is that some people read the books and remember them as having been told in first person, even though they’re in third. I suppose the flavor of first person remains, to some extent.

JC: What is on the writing horizon for you? Will you be following a new romance with one of the characters in Too Good to Be True?

TP: Actually, I started to write that story—a third in the series, featuring two of the characters my readers have already met in the first two books. I hope to be able to do that soon. But Harvest House asked me to start working on something else first. It’s another chick lit idea, but with an entirely different set of characters and situations. We haven’t discussed whether it will be a stand-alone or a series—we’re very early on in the discussion stage.

And then I’ve been asked to flesh out a five-book series idea, which another house has expressed some interest in. I’m not even beyond a simple paragraph-per-book point with that project yet.

Finally, I’ve been asked by a third publisher to put together some ideas for a novel for the 16-23 year old reading audience.

So there are many possibilities in the future!

JC: What has been the biggest blessing you’ve discovered in writing?

TP: I never expected to get such wonderful reader feedback, especially from readers in the college-aged range. I think that happened because of the subject matter of The Guy I’m Not Dating. Every positive comment is a fantastic blessing, but when a writer learns that her efforts helped a reader feel closer to the Lord, or more at peace about her situation in life, the blessing goes beyond mere kudos. You feel so certain that this is how the Lord wants you to serve Him!

JC: What advice do you have for someone trying to break into the chick lit market?

TP: To begin with, I’d say read as much chick lit as you can. Obviously, writers need to be voracious readers, regardless of what genre they choose. But there’s nothing like immersing yourself in your chosen genre to trigger your best capabilities and ideas. Learn the craft through books, magazines, and courses. Enter reputable contests, mainly to achieve exposure of your work to editors and agents. Attend conferences and writers’ meetings whenever you can. Shrug off rejection, listen to constructive criticism (all writers should have critique partners). And if you want to break into chick lit or any other genre, you need to submit submit submit! Pray like crazy, and listen for God’s guidance. One thing He gave me about a year ago, and which I often repeat, is that He will never use discouragement to lead you away from writing. If He wants you doing something else, He’ll draw you to something else. I would caution writers against deciding God doesn’t want them writing, simply because they haven’t sold yet. If He blesses you with joy when you write, you need to hang in there.

JC: Any special thoughts you’d like to share with the readers?

TP: I mentioned praying, above. I’d like to reiterate the importance of sitting down in total silence for a short time each morning, before starting your day. I must admit I don’t remember to do this every day. Heaven only knows why I ever forget. When I set aside just ten minutes each morning to shut up and simply sit before Him, waiting for anything He might want to tell me, He blesses me in amazing ways. I might not realize it during those ten minutes, but the ideas He gives me and the ways He guides my steps . . . just phenomenal.

JC: Please let our readers know where/how to get a copy of Too Good to Be True.

TP: The book is available at all of the online bookstores, like Amazon and Christianbook and any actual bookstore can order copies, if they don’t already have them on the shelf. Sometimes people get a kick out of signed copies, and that’s possible through SignedByTheAuthor.

JC: Thanks again for stopping by Trish. And to everyone, Abundant Blessings!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Then and Now

I know it’s been a while—a dear friend recently pointed that out (hi, Lori). I’ve had too much to share and too little time or inspiration on how. But I think I’m ready. First, I want to thank my mom for her hard work and sacrifice that allowed me to go to college. Without that, I never would have been a part of a wonderful reunion that was too long in the making. So, Mom, thank you. I love you. And happy Mothers' Day.

Also, this reunion wouldn’t have come together without some very key people—first and foremost, my old friend and self-adopted brother, Rev Curt. Without your stage managing expertise, this just wouldn’t have happened. Old friend Ricky Grove put together an amazing DVD of old times and faces—great job Rick. Robbie and Ed who helped with the logistics end of things, gathering memories from NAU, you made some wonderful finds. And the folks at NAU—Erin in particular—you all did a great job.

I’ve put together a short video to give you a glimpse of the then and now of our reunion. Consider it a slice—I wasn’t able to include everything I wanted (due to lack of resources, time allotted and talent). This is only a sample of the memories in my heart. I love you all so much and really hope we can do this again.

On a side note, was anyone else impacted by the number of guys in our group named Richard? Not that I’m complaining—I have two brothers (long story), a father and a father-in-law with the same name. Plus, both my husband and son have Richard as their middle name. So, maybe it’s just me. Let’s just say I’m fond of Richards (and Phils).

Love to all, enjoy the video, and as always,

Abundant blessings!